Microsoft Calls on Governments to Stop Stockpiling Software Flaws

Today's topics include Microsoft's president calling on governments to stop the practice of stockpiling software flaws; TIBCO Software's acquisition of data science platform maker Statistica; Google's implementation of the EU's right to be forgotten mandate; and Microsoft adding Skype Bot support to video calls.

This past weekend was a stressful one for many IT workers as the WannaCry ransomware attack spread, crippling Windows systems worldwide. In fact, some hospitals in the United Kingdom were forced to shut down in the wake of the attack.

WannaCry is a weaponized exploit, part of a cyber-espionage toolkit that was allegedly stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency.

As word of the attack grabbed news headlines over the weekend, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, wrote in a May 14 blog post that the "attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem." Smith went on to describe the situation as the equivalent of U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles getting stolen from military stockpiles.

TIBCO Software, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based enterprise data management company that does everything from data mining to cloud services to analytics to graph databases, said May 15 that it will acquire Statistica, a provider of data science prep and presentation software. Terms of the transaction were not released.

The acquisition will bolster TIBCO's analytics product offerings, adding new capabilities aimed at making it easier for data scientists to use machine learning in a variety of applications, such as those analyzing the often large amounts of data produced in internet of things systems. Statistica enables users to more rapidly uncover insights from source data.

Implementing the European Union's right to be forgotten mandate has neither been simple nor without controversy, Google Senior Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer said on the third anniversary of the passage of the statute.

Writing on Google's The Keyword blog, Fleischer on Monday reiterated Google's commitment to complying with the requirements of the law even as he emphasized the need for another look at some of its provisions.

The right to be forgotten mandate gives EU residents the right to ask search engine services such as Google to remove links in search engine results that point to articles containing erroneous, incomplete or derogatory personal information about them.

Skype Bots are evolving past their chat-based beginnings. The current selection of Skype Bots range from entertaining pastimes to online assistants that help users book travel deals. Soon, the next generation of bots on the online communications platform will be able to participate in video calls.

During last week's Build developer conference, Microsoft announced a range of developer tools that expand how the company's bot platform interacts with users. This includes a software development kit that enables one-on-one or group video conferences with interactive bots.

Bots, however, aren’t the only way developers can plug into the Skype ecosystem. Microsoft has developed a new Skype Web Control that enables website owners to add Skype Chat to any site with two lines of code.